Story-telling at The Center for Hope

My name is Chloe Poston and I recently completed my senior project in collaboration with a local recovery center, The Center for Hope. The Center for Hope is a peer recovery center located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, focused on giving recovering addicts a community of support.

The project I took on was completing an anthology of works created by recovering addicts and incarcerated individuals. Many of them wrote poetry, therefore, a poetry book was the final goal.

I have been attending The Center for Hope for the majority of my college career, however, the attendees are always changing. One of my greatest tasks was going to be forming connections and trust with the men and women. I knew without these connections it would be difficult for them to want to give me such personal writings.

Each week I attended two meetings with my mentor at the Center for Hope in an effort to build this trust and get to know these wonderful people. I didn’t stick out much considering I have been attending these same meetings for 3 years, but like I said the groups change. At each meeting they were given time to write down any stories or memories they felt prompted to record.

I would then go home and transcribe as well as organize these writings. Eventually I was able to begin compiling the actual book. I used Canva to design. Below are some photos representing the final product in digital form.

Out of privacy and respect I will refrain from sharing names but below you will also find pictures of some of the incarcerated men I was able to work with. For such tough men, they wrote the most delicate and beautiful poetry. The paradox touched my heart.

When the book was completed I printed several copies. I printed 3 pocket poetry books and one larger spiral bound book for display. Eventually we will be printing a copy for each person at the Center.

At the bottom of this post I have attached a full copy of the digital book as well as the presentation and a time log documenting my time. I was collecting stories up until the end of the week before my deadline therefore the last week was absolute crunch time but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I was able to spend 53 hours visiting these people and compiling their poetry book for them. The end goal was to honor them and show the world that they are normal people just like the rest of us. Breaking the stigma is important.

After presenting my senior project I was able to head down to the Center that very night and show the men and women the final product. We had a reading where each of them could stand in front of everyone and read their poetry aloud. Seeing their gratitude, their hopefulness and their resilience was inspiring.

I am a firm believer that making others feel seen and heard is one of the best ways we can connect with those around us and foster true humanity.

Thank you for reading and I hope you feel as moved by this book as I was able to feel.